Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Newsworthy or Russia Info Op

Today is yet another day where I am cranky at the media. Is it because they are reporting the latest wikidump and thus achieving Russia's objectives by distracting from Trump's daily mess?  Nope.

It is because the Canadian media is paying some attention to the reports that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, may not have been entirely forthcoming about the WWII experience of her grandfather.  Her grandfather apparently did some bad stuff during the war.  So, we should care about it now because?  I got into a twitter argument with Andrew Coyne, where I basically accused him of carrying Russia's water on this.

Why?  Because the sins of the grandfather are UTTERLY IRRELEVANT for today's politicians.  Whatever denials or dodges Freeland has used, it really does not matter.  She is not responsible for what her grandfather did or did not do.  This is only a story because Russia is pushing it out now, because Freeland has been less positive about Russia than her predecessor and because Canada just announced a renewal of its effort to train Ukrainian soldiers to fight better.  Who are they fighting?  Oh yeah, Russian soldiers and those armed by Russia.

So, why do the Russian info operators a favor and give this story attention?  Damned if I know.  Editors have discretion about what to publish, and they probably should weigh the inherent newsworthiness of a story with some thought in these contexts about whether they are doing a foreign power a favor by facilitating their information operations campaign.  "Should I be a tool of Russian propaganda today?"  That might be a question worth of consideration before spending ink/bandwidth on a story about a dead relative.

Instead, media folks seem not to mind getting played as long as it gets them more clicks, retweets, and/or ratings.

Oh, and yes, all this applies in spades to the wikileaks stories.  Just reporting that stuff without the context that wikileaks has been working with the Russians in their attack on the democracies of the world is just a wee bit irresponsible.  Indeed, if you want a hot story, how about doing some investigative journalism to show that wikileaks may not be all that pure of heart?

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